The Extreme Male Brain Theory Of Autism

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Research supports that females with ASD display more severe symptoms (Nydén et al., 2000), which could support the idea that both X-chromosomes in females have to be mutated in order for females to develop the disorder. Because the females that are diagnosed with ASD tend to be classified as low functioning more often than males, females require more abnormalities in their genes in order to manifest the symptoms of ASD (Szatmari et al., 2012). In research that looks at family genetic history of ASD, it was found that females with ASD have more first-degree relatives affected by the disorders than males do. Because the family history shows more people affected by the disorder, this reveals that in the females’ families there is more of a genetic …show more content…
Hans Asperger, the Austrian pediatrician that discovered Asperger’s syndrome in 1944, explained ASD as a manifestation of male intelligence, however, an extreme manifestation. This statement has lead to more current research on what is known as the Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism that explores this male cognition. Males tend to process information by systematizing it. Females on the other hand, process information by empathizing. Cohen et al. tested what is called the empathizing-systemizing theory by devising two self-report measures known as the Empathy Quotient and the Systematizing Quotient. Cohen et. al found that females tend to express more identification with other’s emotions and are able to predict other’s responses and respond in an appropriate manner, while males are more focused on narrow and specific details and analyze situations (2002). Cohen and colleagues state that through systematizing, one cannot predict human behavior. It is empathizing that is better at accomplishing that (2002). Empathizing makes up a large part of social interaction. Individuals with ASD have trouble with empathizing behaviors as evidenced by one of the main diagnostic criteria being an impairment of social interaction. Thus, Cohen et al. described ASD as being an extreme manifestation of male cognition where individuals are focused on systematizing. Systematizing …show more content…
females develop a more severe ASD phenotype than males and are more likely to be on the low-functioning end of the spectrum (2000). However, this may just reflect a difficulty and failure in diagnosing females that actually have high functioning autism. Because ASD symptoms manifest differently in females, many females may go under diagnosed or even misdiagnosed. As children go through the developmental process, researchers have found that boys that develop ASD tend to have greater social problems than females with ASD. The X-chromosome mutations have been found to be responsible for the social impairments present in ASD. Since males are more vulnerable to X-chromosome effects, they also experience more problems than females in social interaction (Loat et al. 2008). Also, the effects of elevated levels of fetal testosterone are associated with the manifestations of symptoms related to ASD. According to Baron-Cohen et al., fetal testosterone has an inverse relation with eye contact duration and frequency in 12 month olds. The more fetal testosterone a child experienced in utero, the less frequent the eye contact exhibited at 12 months. Eye contact is something that should be present in normal social communication, but it is lacking in individuals with ASD. There is also a negative association between fetal levels of testosterone and empathy at both 48 and 96 months. The higher the levels of fetal testosterone, the less empathizing behaviors present.

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